How's Life? 2015 - Key findings


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How’s Life? 2015 describes the essential ingredients that shape people’s well-being in OECD and other major economies. It includes a wide variety of statistics, capturing both material well-being and quality of life. This third edition includes a special focus on child well-being, on volunteering and on inequalities in well-being across different regions within countries.

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  • 6 Chapters:

    Chapter 1. Well-being today and tomorrow: An overview [introduces the OECD approach to measuring well-being; summarises Ch2 and Ch3 findings; provides an overview of country strengths/weaknesses; etc.]
    Chapter 2. How’s life? in figures [updates the headline indicators considered in previous editions; examines changes in well-being since around 2009 – which was the first year we considered in the first edition of How’s Life?; includes some coverage of the distribution of well-being outcomes by age, gender, education and income – but varies depending on the outcome]
    Chapter 3. Resources for future well-being [new for 2015. Builds on the approach described in How’s Life? 2013 for measuring the resources that help to sustain well-being over time. Includes illustrative indicators spanning natural capital, human capital, social capital and economic capital. Draws extensively on other OECD work, particularly the Green Growth Indicator Framework, and National Accounts data].
    Chapter 4. How’s life for children? [new for 2015. Applies the OECD framework for measuring well-being, but focusing on the material living conditions and quality of life experienced by children].
    Chapter 5. The value of giving: Volunteering and well-being [new for 2015. Looks at the available data on the frequency and prevalence of volunteering in OECD countries, and also examines the well-being benefits of volunteering, both to volunteers themselves and to wider society].
    Chapter 6. Going local: Measuring well-being in regions [discusses the importance of a regional perspective on well-being, showing that where you live has a large impact on your opportunities to live well. Builds on the 2014 OECD publication “How’s Life in Your Region”, with a particular emphasis on the measurement challenges involved in assessing well-being at the subnational level].

    [the slides that follow describe findings in more detail, so you don’t need to expand here]
    Household income has begin a slow recovery since 2009 in the majority of OECD countries. But the OECD average masks divergent trends. In one third of OECD countries, household income in 2013 is still below the 2009 level. Particularly dramatic falls have been recorded in Greece (-30%), Ireland (-18%), Spain (-11%), and Portugal and Italy (both -9%). Other countries that recorded falls include Slovenia, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands and Austria.
    In general, Greece, Portugal, Italy and Spain have seen very marked declines in material well-being from 2009 -2013/4: this includes falls in income and earnings, and rises in long-term unemployment and housing costs.
    Long-term unemployment remains higher than in 2009 for two-thirds of OECD countries - - and youth continue to bear the brunt of this in the majority (two thirds) of countries. In 2014, the highest rates of long-term unemployment are in Greece (19.5%) and Spain (13%). Rates are above 7% in Italy, Portugal and the Slovak Republic. But rates are below 1% in Korea, Mexico, Norway, Israel, Iceland, New Zealand and Canada.
    Housing now costs the average OECD household just over 20% of their [gross adjusted] disposable income per year. These costs are significantly higher for households who went into debt to purchase their home, as debt repayments are not included in the OECD measure of housing affordability. The highest rates of housing expenditure are found in Slovak Republic, Czech Republic and Greece (each around 25% or more). The lowest rates are found in Korea (16%) and Norway (17%).
    1 in 8 employees in the OECD routinely work very long hours (50 or more per week). This has gone up by 0.7% (from 11.8% to 12.5%) since 2009. At the country level, the proportion of employees working very long hours ranges from 1 in 250 in the Netherlands, to 1 in every 2.4 employees in Turkey (and more than 1 in 4 in Mexico).
    Voter turnout has declined in two thirds of OECD countries since around 2007. Chile saw the largest fall, but this can be attributed to the fact that Chile abandoned compulsory voting in 2012. Other large falls have been recorded in the USA, Greece, Japan, Slovenia and Italy.
    The share of adults of working age having completed upper secondary education went up 3.2% across the OECD as a whole. Greece and Portugal have seen particularly large gains. But fewer than 60% of working-age adults have completed upper secondary education in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Chile, Mexico and Turkey.
    It is not yet clear what impact the Great Recession will have on life expectancy in the longer run. 5 years is not a long enough timeframe for the effects to become known.

    Household income is measured as household net adjusted disposable income per capita, and the 1.9% increase is a cumulative increase over the entire period (not an average annual increase).
    Voter turnout was assessed from around 2007 to ensure that every country had experienced a national election in the time period under consideration (if we took 2009 as a baseline, that would not have been the case)
  • [You might notice that the main element of the How’s Life? Measurement framework that is missing from this approach is work-life balance. However, some relevant constructs are picked up in social and family environment (e.g. feeling pressure from school, and time spent with parents].

    [NOTES] Data sources include:
    Health and Behaviour in School-Aged Children Study (HBSC)
    The OECD Income Distribution Database (for information about income and poverty in homes with children)
    EU-SILC, HILDA (Australia), ENIGH (Mexico), CASEN (Chile), ACS (United States ) survey vehicles
    OECD Health Statistics
    WHO Health Statistics
    World Bank World Development Indicators
    OECD PISA (2012) and the OECD Education at a Glance database
    The International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS)
    OECD calculations based on Time-Use Surveys (e.g. the Harmonised European Time Use Survey web application for European Countries, and public-use survey micro-data and tabluations from National Statistical Offices for non-European countries)
  • Child well-being varies around the OECD. But countries that do better for adults don’t always do better for children:

    Canada and the United States are the clearest examples: both do comparatively well across many different dimensions of well-being among adults. But they are often among the poorest performers in terms of child well-being outcomes. Countries in this position could be storing up well-being problems for the future.
    More optimistically, there are some countries that do better for their children than you might expect based on their adult well-being outcomes. The clearest examples are the Czech Republic and Slovenia.
  • The extent of inequalities varies a lot across OECD countries.

    Italy (shown) is the only OECD country where children from less affluent backgrounds find it easier to talk to their parents.
    In Poland (shown) and Ireland, children in more affluent households are slightly more likely to be obese.

    [Charts focus on the OECD countries with the largest and the smallest inequalities between children from different SES backgrounds. The exception is Belgium, which has the 2nd largest gap in talking to parents. The largest gap is the United States with around 10 percentage points ].
  • They are also more liklely to be bullied, less likely to enjoy school
  • NOTES:
    If we put a value on the amount of time that people spend volunteering, it amounts to around 2% of GDP in the average OECD country, going up to 4.1% in New Zealand, and 4.7% in Australia. The smallest valuations are for Hungary (0.2%) and Korea (0.5%). This calculation is based on what it would cost to hire people to do the work that volunteers do (using information about hourly wages and volunteering rates in OECD countries).

    Volunteering appears to be a «virtuous circle», where people can do well by doing good.
    Yet some people are missing out on all these benefits.
    Disadvantaged groups, such as the unemployed and those on lower incomes, are more disengaged from our civil society: they have less trust in others and in the institutions that are meant to serve them, and they show lower participation rates in volunteering.
    The upshot is that all of us miss out, because the economically disadvantaged are excluded from playing a part in shaping and improving our societies.
    This is a huge missed opportunity. It underscores the fact that building inclusive societies is about a lot more than just addressing income inequalities.

    These data relate to what is called «formal volunteering» (volunteering through an organisation).
    However, when we look at «informal volunteering» which is about helping people, other than family and colleagues, on an informal basis (available for European countries only), we see a similar overall pattern (with the differences being slightly less marked).
  • [this will be tailored for the PAC Centres]
  • Monitoring the stocks of resources that exist today but that help to maintain well-being over time provides a first step towards understanding the prospects for future well-being.

    How’s Life? 2015 includes for the first time a set of illustrative indicators for the natural, human, social and economic “capital stocks” that support well-being over time. It also covers key risk factors affecting those stocks.

    Data coverage is limited at the moment, so we only have a partial picture.

    However, this indicator set will be further developed over time, to complement the dashboard of current well-being outcomes used in How’s Life? with indicators that take a longer-term view.
  • NOTES:
    GHG emissions refer to emissions from production (not from consumption). STI data suggests that most OECD countries are net importers of embedded carbon – i.e. for the OECD as a whole, carbon emissions from consumption are higher than those from production.

    Biodiversity – measured as the percentage of mammals, birds and vascular plants that are considered critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable (i.e. those species that are in danger of extinction or soon likely to be), based on the IUCN Red List categories and criteria. Data reported in How’s Life? 2015 are collated by OECD Environment Directorate, and form part of the OECD Green Growth Indicators database.
  • How's Life? 2015 - Key findings

    1. 1. How’s Life? 2015 Measuring well-being 13 October 2015
    2. 2. The OECD well-being framework • People rather than economic system or GDP • Outcomes rather than inputs and outputs • Both averages and inequalities • Both objective and subjective aspects • Both today and tomorrow 36 countries • OECD • Brazil • RussiaSource: OECD (2011) How’s Life? Measuring Well-Being, OECD Publishing, Paris,
    3. 3. Inside the 2015 edition How’s Life? in figures: an update on well-being, and changes since 2009 Resources for future well-being How’s life for children? The value of giving: Volunteering and well-being Going local: Measuring well-being in regions
    4. 4. Well-being strengths and weaknesses vary across countries • While some countries do better than others across several dimensions of well- being, no country “has it all”. Every OECD country has some areas of comparative strength, and some areas of comparative weakness • Some aspects of well-being (e.g. household income, earnings, wealth and water quality) are generally better in OECD countries with the highest levels of GDP per capita. But even some of the highest-GDP OECD countries still face challenges in terms of work-life balance, unemployment risk, personal safety and life expectancy • Challenges in relation to air quality, unemployment risk, housing affordability, and work-life balance can occur at all levels of GDP per capita in the OECD • Countries with similar levels of GDP per capita can have very different “profiles” of performance across the indicators • This underlines the value of going “beyond GDP” to understand well-being
    5. 5. Are lives getting better? The picture since 2009 is mixed… • OECD average household income increased by 1.9% between 2009-2013. However, in one third of countries, household income in 2013 was lower than in 2009. • Long-term unemployment in 2014 remains higher than in 2009 for two thirds of OECD countries • Housing has become less affordable in over one third of OECD countries. However, access to basic sanitation has improved • 1 in 8 employees in the OECD routinely work very long hours (50 or more per week). This has gone up slightly since 2009 • Voter turnout has declined in two thirds of OECD countries, when compared to 2007 levels Almost all countries have experienced further gains in upper secondary educational attainment rates since 2009 • Life expectancy now exceeds 80 years in more than two-thirds of OECD countries, and average life expectancy has increased by 9 months since 2009
    6. 6. How’s life for children? • How’s Life? 2015 includes a focus on child well-being for the first time • Measures follow the OECD framework for measuring well-being, but adopt a child- centred perspective • Various data sources are used, but most countries have some data gaps
    7. 7. Not all children are getting a good start in life • 1 in 10 children in the OECD live in homes where no adult has a job • 1 in 10 children report being bullied at least twice in the past 2 months in OECD countries • 1 in 7 children live in income poverty, and this has risen since 2007 in more than two thirds of OECD countries 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 2011 2007 Child poverty rate Percentage of children aged 0-17 living in households whose disposable income is below 50% of the median Note: The latest available year is 2012 for Australia, Hungary, Mexico and the Netherlands; 2010 for Belgium and 2009 for Japan. Source: OECD Income Distribution Database,
    8. 8. Child well-being varies around the OECD AUT BEL CAN CHE CZEDEU DNK ESP EST FIN FRA GBR GRC HUN IRL ISL ITA LUX NLD NOR POL PRT SVK SVNSWE TUR USA 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% Shareofchildwell-beingindicatorswhereacountryisamong thetopthirdperformers Share of child well-being indicators where a country is among the bottom third perfomers
    9. 9. Children pay a high price for inequalities among adults On average, children from less affluent families find it harder to talk to their parents… …and are less satisfied with their lives 83% 87% 83% 74% 82% 84% 70% 75% 80% 85% 90% Belgium OECD Italy Share of children who find it easy to talk to at least one parent High socio-economic status Low socio-economic status National average 8.2 7.8 7.8 7.0 7.1 7.5 6.5 7 7.5 8 Iceland OECD Ireland Children’s average life satisfaction score (0-10 scale)
    10. 10. Child health inequalities can be striking …and are more likely to be obese Children from less affluent families are more likely to report poor health… 10% 11% 7% 23% 18% 10% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% Netherlands OECD Switzerland Teenagers reporting fair or poor health 7% 2% 3% 14% 4% 2% 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 United States OECD Poland Obesity High socio-economic status Low socio-economic status National average
    11. 11. Parental time with children differs widely across countries 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 Physical care, supervision (mothers) Teaching, reading, playing with child (mothers) Physical care, supervision (fathers) Teaching, reading, playing with child (fathers) Time (in minutes) is reported through time-use diaries, and refers to primary activities. Physical care includes childcare and child supervision, as well as (in most countries) time spent transporting children. In Ireland and Korea, physical care does not include time spent on transporting children.
    12. 12. Volunteering can offer win-wins for well-being • 1 in 3 people of working age volunteer through an organisation at least once a year in OECD countries … ranging from 18% in Spain and the Czech Republic, to 55% in the United States and Norway • The value of the time people spend on volunteering amounts to around 2% of GDP on average in the OECD • Volunteers have higher skills and earn around 14% more than non-volunteers • Volunteers tend to be healthier and more satisfied with their lives than non-volunteers • Time-use data from the United States suggests that on days when people volunteer, they gain an extra hour of happiness
    13. 13. Volunteering rates vary with education, employment status and income 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% OECD average Percentage of the working-age population reporting that they volunteered through an organisation during the past 12 months Primary Tertiary Education level Unemployed Full-time employed Lower HigherMiddle Employment status Household income
    14. 14. Where you live affects your opportunities to live well … and differences within countries can be larger than differences between them
    15. 15. Upper secondary educational attainment varies by region
    16. 16. Regional differences in PM2.5 air pollution can be large Yucatan Sardinia Magallanes yAntártica EasternBlackSea Jeju Tyrol Limousin Alaska Hokkaido Pomerania UpperNorrland Nunavut Southwest Ticino CanaryIslands Mecklenburg- Vorpommern NorthernJutland Azores NorthernIreland Athens NorthNetherlands CentralSlovakia CentralDistrict Trøndelag Tasmania SouthernTransdanubia WesternFinland FlemishRegion EasternSloveniaBorder,Midland andWestern South Island Other Regions Morelos Lombardy Tarapacá Southeastern Anatolia-East Capital Region Vorarlberg Alsace DistrictofColumbia Southern-Kanto Silesia SouthSweden Ontario Moravia-Silesia Zurich Melilla Berlin Capital North NorthWestEngland NorthernGreece SouthNetherlands WestSlovakia SouthernDistrict South-EasternNorway NorthernTerritory NorthernGreatPlain Helsinki-UusimaaBrussels CapitalRegion WesternSlovenia SouthernandEastern NorthIsland CapitalRegion Estonia Luxembourg -10 -5 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 Min Country average Max
    17. 17. How’s Life? 2015 also makes a start at monitoring resources for future well-being…
    18. 18. What can be said so far? Natural capital Human capital • OECD per capita emissions of greenhouse gases have decreased since 2000, but global atmospheric concentrations continue to rise • Forest area per capita has decreased 7% in the OECD area since 2000, in the context of large worldwide net losses • Biodiversity is often at risk: the proportion of threatened mammals, plants and birds (as a share of all known species) exceeds 20% in around one third of OECD countries • The share of 25-34 year olds completing upper secondary education has increased by 8 percentage points since 2000 in the OECD • In terms of risks to future health, smoking has declined since 2000, with 18.5% of OECD residents reporting that they smoke every day in 2012, down from 23.8% in 2000. • However, obesity is on the rise, with 21.8% of the OECD population now considered obese (up from 17.8% in 2000) • The sharp increase in long-term unemployment during the Great Recession also puts human capital at risk – particularly where much of the burden falls on young people
    19. 19. Social capital Economic capital • Trust in other people is highest in Denmark, Finland and Norway, and lowest in France, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary and Portugal (European data only) • For the average European OECD country, trust in the police is higher than trust in the legal system, and trust in the political system is the lowest of all 3 institutions • Trust, voting, and volunteering are lower among more disadvantaged groups • Household debt (as a % of disposable income) is higher now than in 2000 in almost all OECD countries. In around half, it has increased further since the start of the crisis • Gross fixed capital formation in the OECD remains sluggish, following a very sharp decrease in 2009 • Between 2000 and 2013, most OECD countries saw a reduction in the financial net worth of government as a % of GDP Resources for future well-being
    20. 20. Read How’s Life? 2015 and our country snapshots free online at: THANK YOU! For any questions, please contact